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Malaysia GE15: Low political literacy and indecisiveness limit youth votes

Malaysia GE15: Low political literacy and indecisiveness limit youth votes

“They haven’t entered into a stage where they felt like their voting power had no ability to change the outcome and therefore, that certain sense of hopefulness that comes with youth is still very much present in Malaysia,” said Mr Chai.

Despite the anticipated turnout, observers remain reserved in the direction young Malaysians are expected to vote.

Surveys show that young voters are more politically undecided, with “many pollsters unwilling to call, one way or another, because of the indecision among the youth,” said Mr Wee.

RURAL VS URBAN VOTES

The largest turnout of young voters yet is expected at the upcoming election, following a historic constitutional amendment that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

However, Malaysia’s malapportioned electoral system – where voting districts see unequal distribution of voters – will likely limit the impact of the youth vote, said Ms Lee.

Candidates in rural constituencies are expected to have an advantage because they need less votes to win.

Meanwhile, young Malaysians are largely concentrated in richer urban areas that afford more economic and employment opportunities, and more votes are needed in those mega-constituencies with higher population densities to make a difference, said Ms Lee.

“Unfortunately, the youth are working in environments where the votes are not equal. So the impact can go both ways,” said Ms Lee. “For them to really make an impact and for their voices to be heard, we need to see at least 80 to 90 per cent turnout of youth.”

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